Tag: success

Job Titles and Responsibilities

Job Titles and Responsibilities (Image provided by http://www.sxc.hu/)

Your New Job Title

Congrats! You did it! You finally have that new job title you’ve been working so hard towards! Let’s be honest with each other here–you were working hard for the title, not because you just wanted to see your company flourish with all the hard work you were putting in. Of course that wasn’t bad or anything, it was just a nice side effect of you getting your new job title. Some great things happened once you received your new job title too! Your responsibilities shifted so now nobody can come after you when your pesky clients are complaining about your sales process, when your code won’t compile into your finished product, or when employees are having conflicts in the workplace.

You’re literally only responsible for the two new tasks that you have attached to your job title! Besides, why would the company keep all your colleagues around if you were supposed to be doing some of their work too? That’s just ridiculous, right? Besides, if you ever had to do anything outside of your assigned responsibilities, you’d become inefficient!

I should also congratulate you for the first steps in creating the negative culture that may bring your company to its knees. With that outlook, you’re going to be the poison to your company culture, and you’ll slowly kill off any employees that actually wanted to see a successful company. The entitlement will start oozing out of every employee within the organization, barriers between tasks will start shooting up, and your company will grind to a halt when anything outside of process happens.

Because you won’t pick up the slack for Jane’s work when she’s getting overloaded because it’s not attached to your job title is the same reason John isn’t going to help you out when you need it. It’s going to be the same reason Bill isn’t helping the new co-ops who started (because he’s a received a Director of Technical Management Lead position of product-X-part-B now, and interns are basically insects to him) and Bridgette isn’t doing anything to help her team lead resolve conflicts within her team.

Congratulations on starting the vicious cycle that will kill off the business and the culture that once made it great.

Why Have Job Titles Then?

Job titles do serve a purpose and that purpose is sure as hell not to limit you. Plain and simple, your job title and the tasks associated with it tell other people that you’re responsible for something. That does not imply the inverse. Think about it this way: if you were to assume that everything always worked as planned and things were perfect, it wouldn’t make any sense to put more resources towards something than what you’d need. Sure, maybe you need two people to manage the on-boarding process for your interns so there’s some overlap in task, or four people to manage selling your product, but you wouldn’t assign six people to do a three person job. It just wouldn’t make sense! Because of that, we have job titles and associated tasks that go along with them so we know what we’re responsible for. So if everything is going flawlessly and managing the new marketing interns isn’t part of my responsibilities but reaching out to customers or building software is, I’ll stick to my role.

You don’t live in a dream world. Surprise.

Things are almost never perfect. If they are, then you’re lucky, but unfortunately it probably won’t last. There are too many unknowns to always plan perfectly and sometimes things just come up. This is where your job title and position really shine. If we know that Ted is the manager of XYZ and he has responsibilities A, B, and C, then when the pressure starts building on the company he should be cracking down on those things. You wouldn’t expect Ted to be off trying to take on some extra work in a high-risk low-return option in the company if he’s under pressure to get his main responsibilities done. If it starts to become overwhelming, we can hopefully allocate more resources over to help out with Ted’s tasks because it’s starting to become unmanageable for one person. Maybe it means injecting more resources (by hiring more awesome people like Ted) or by temporarily (or even permanently) shifting some responsibilities of others to take on stuff Ted once solely managed.

For now, at the end of the day those responsibilities belong to Ted. He’s part of the company because he’s taken on the role that needs to fulfill those responsibilities. If he’s having trouble keeping up, it’s also his responsibility to let his manager or leader know that he’s running into roadblocks that keep him from effectively getting the job done. If they’re any good, they’ll listen, and if they’re amazing, they’ll hopefully notice it before Ted sees it.

Job Titles Should Not Imply Limits

So, a job title indicates what one is responsible for. You’ll notice I didn’t say that those tasks are the only thing a person is responsible for though, and that’s certainly on purpose. If you want to be part of a successful company, you need to realize that putting up barriers and acting on entitlement isn’t going to get you there. Let’s revisit my Ted example.

So the pressure is building, and Ted is strapped for time. He’s been able to keep on top of responsibilities A and B, but C is definitely falling behind compared to the others. And guess what? Ted’s just caught the flu so he’s going to be out of commission for the next week or so. So what do your job responsibilities look like now that Ted is out of the picture?

If you’re like the person I was mocking in the opening paragraphs, this is where things really start to go sour. You have some critical parts of your business that are falling behind and your superstar resource isn’t able to take care of one of his three responsibilities. Unfortunately, John, Jane, Bill, and Bridgette all took on the same mentality and they’re sticking to their own responsibilities. Because Ted will figure it out… or someone else will… Right? Or someone else won’t, I suppose, since by now everyone else is adopting this exact same mindset. That type of company culture is sure looking great right about now, isn’t it! Just about as great as Ted’s responsibility C is looking.

The alternative is that you don’t let your job titles create barriers. Sure, Ted is responsible for A, B, and C. He’s been able to help Bridgette and Bill out when he had a bit of down time and they were getting swamped by some large orders from a new promising client. Ted knew that it was a key deal though so he dug in with them and helped where he could. He kept on top of his own responsibilities, but he put in some extra hours to make sure Bill and Bridgette would nail those orders. And you know what? Jane saw that Ted was putting in some extra time and how much it was able to help the business after he helped Bill and Bridgette. The next time Jane saw John falling a bit behind on his coding tasks, she decided she’d come in early for a few days and help him meet the deadline for the feature he was working on.

In the end everyone did what they had to as per their job titles, but nobody let their job titles hold them back from helping make the company successful.

Summary

There are pros and cons to job titles. If you can see the big picture and you’re aimed at being part of a successful company, you’re not going to let your job title hold you back from doing great things and helping where you’re needed. Everyone in the company should have a common goal of making awesome products or services for the customers, and sometimes that means putting in some extra effort where you’re not required to based on your job title. The alternative is a pretty grim path to take, especially as more employees start to adopt that mind set.

Some advice to stay on the right track:

  • Take care of your own responsibilities first. Getting your hands in everything all at once and all the time might mean that you can’t get your own responsibilities taken care of.
  • Don’t let your job title restrict you. If you can help someone out and keep on top of your own tasks, then offer a hand!
  • Remember that things almost never go 100% according to plan, so plan for the unexpected.
  • If you have a set of skills that carry over well to someone else’s position, consider meeting up and seeing how you can help out.
  • Keep in mind that the efficiency of your company is only as good as all of the components working together. If some part of it is hurting, the whole company feels it.

Do what you’re required to based on your job title, and then do some more. Being helpful won’t hurt you.


PROFIT HOT 50 – Weekly Article Dump

Magnet Forensics - Ranked #7 in Profit Hot 50!

PROFIT HOT 50

It’s with great honour that I can say the company I’m part of, Magnet Forensics, has achieved the 7th place in the Profit Hot 50 rankings for 2013. Last year Magnet Forensics was also on the list ranked at number 16th, but we’ve shown ourselves up by moving a full 9 positions! Our ranking in the Profit Hot 50 is even more impressive considering we’re the only company from Kitchener-Waterloo region in Ontario–Known for it’s incredible startup community and success stories–that made the list. We’re excited and tremendously proud of our accomplishments, but it’s certainly going to be quite the challenge for us to move up in rank next year. It’s a challenge we’re all ready to take on though. You can check out the ranking over here or at the official Profit Guide posting.

Articles

I’ll put the horn-tooting aside… even though it’s an incredible accomplishment (not sure that I mentioned that already).

  • Don’t Be A Perfectionist: Ilya Pozin discusses the downsides to being a perfectionist. Often, people call themselves perfectionists when they can’t think of some other weakness they might have (you see it a lot in interviews) and because they think it’s a loop-hole in the question. I mean, if your weakness is that you’re perfect… how can that be a weakness, right?! Well in reality, aside form being a cheesy way to answer an otherwise good interview question, perfectionism can certainly be a problem. Especially in a fast-paced startup environment, we’re often not hunting for perfect. We’re hunting for 80% perfect with 20% of the effort. It’s the only way we can keep moving fast and get products or services to our customers. Besides, we don’t know what “perfect” actually is… Our customers do. And if we never get anything to them, how the heck can we ever know what perfect is?
  • How Goofing Off Can Make You More Successful: In this article, Adam Rifkin discusses over work. It’s a great tie in to the articles I shared last week about burnout. Adam talks about why we often find ourselves in situations where we feel like we’re forced to over work to be successful and shared a handful of suggestions for how to avoid it. His top 3: Doing nothing. Socializing. Helping others. Sound counter-intuitive to your poor overworked soul? Well kick back, relax, and have a good read through his post 🙂
  • The New Rules for Career Success: In Dave Kerpen‘s article, he shares some answers from Dan Schawbel about what it means to have a successful career. Among the top points, Dan suggests looking inside your current company before looking for opportunities elsewhere. This is a a key point because instead of becoming a chronic company hopper you can actually look for other great opportunities in the company you’ve already invested yourself in. Additionally, Dan suggests acting like an entrepreneur at your current job. If you’ve already proven yourself successful at your role, look for side projects that can benefit your company.
  • The Part They Don’t Tell You About Startup Team Building: The end result of becoming a good leader is often that you obsolete yourself in your current job. It’s a strange truth about the position: You start off taking on a large workload and then lead others so that they can effectively take on your portion and more. Where does that put you as a leader though? Tomasz Tunguz discusses this leadership role evolution in his article.
  • Raspberry Pi + WordPress => PiPress: This is a bit of a shameless plug, but I thought it might be cool for any tech-savvy bloggers out there who are looking for a bit of a DIY. After reading all over The Internet for how I can use my Raspberry Pi, I discovered I could use it to host a blog. So, for what it’s worth, the text you’re reading right now is coming from a little computer just a tad bigger than a credit card.
  • The 7 Things That Will Stop You Getting Things Done: Do you find there are a lot of things throughout your day that cut into you working efficiently? Bernard Marr has a nice list of things that are likely chewing up your time and a handful of solutions for how you can minimize the effect they have on your life.
  • Business is Over: My New Post-Workday Transition RoutineJeanine O’Donnell uses a BBB acronym for helping her transition from work-mode to home-mode. How do you handle separating your work-life from your home-life? Is there even a separation for you?
  • The Business World Can Tear You Apart – If You Let It: Even after achieving financial success and success in your career, sometimes there’s just something missing. Joel Peterson shares some tips for how you can keep your career focus from taking away from the finer things in life.
  • 6 Ways to Put the Good (Bad and Ugly) in Goodbye—Part II: Last week I shared a post about a great example of how to say to goodbye to your employees when they’re leaving for other opportunities. This post by Chester Elton builds on that with more positive examples, but he also shares some downright terrible ways that people have been “let go” by their employers.
  • Adventures in Cat (and Dog) Sitting: What I Learned about Managing People: If you don’t know what your pets have in common with your employees, Whitney Johnson can help you out with that. Why is this comparison necessary? Well if you think about how some people treat their pets (letting them out for walks, feeding them when they need it, belly rubs, petting, etc…) there are a lot of parallels with your employees… Well, there should be. Your employees deserve a good environment to work in, being acknowledged for their hard work, and having engaging work.

That’s it for this week! I hope you checked out the Profit Hot 50 article I mentioned above. Follow Dev Leader on popular social media outlets to get these updates through the week!

Nick Cosentino – LinkedIn
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You can also check out Dev Leader on FlipBoard.


Weekly Article Dump

Quick Reading Update!

Here’s a collection of things I shared over the past week. It’s a short list this time around, but a quick reading update right before the weekend might provide you with a couple topics to look into in your downtime:

The goal of these types of posts will just be to summarize my social media activity. If you don’t want to watch Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, you won’t need to. Once per week (on a Friday), I’ll try to summarize all of the articles that I linked to on these social media outlets. For what it’s worth, these will generally be articles geared more toward the leadership side of things and less about software development or programming. Most of what I share in these summaries will be relatively quick reading, since it’s usually just bog posts or LinkedIn articles. I’ll save  book lists and that type of reading material for something else–not these summaries.


  • Nick Cosentino

    Nick Cosentino

    I work as a team lead of software engineering at Magnet Forensics (http://www.magnetforensics.com). I'm into powerlifting, bodybuilding, and blogging about leadership/development topics over at http://www.devleader.ca.

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